Armburster: Light Plotting

I’m supposed to be writing already having completed my plotting on Tuesday.  Since I didn’t complete that I’m not writing today.  I’m tempted to put fingers to keys to see where the story goes, but I won’t.  Instead I’ll do the work.

For those of you not privy to my brain or office my first week will revive a brief mech motivated entry from December 2007:

I keep coming back to making the character of “Doc” be the mysterious antagonist.  Which I then resist in various ways.  Then counter.  I’m starting to realize how much I prefer situations, events, or formless monsters to be the baddies than primary characters.

It makes sense in a 1000 word piece that the bad guy would be there all along.  All the motivations I come up with are thinner than I’d like to use.  I don’t want accidental or coerced badness.  I want dead-on purposeful seeking your death or destruction badness.

Regardless of the badness vector I’ve arrived at an event path that goes something like this: Armburster tests the XO and is surprisingly impressed and visibly enthusiastic about the results; they tuck it away for the night and return to testing the following day, early in that testing a virus locks up the XO’s controls and takes over to a great degree (Arm has some control but very little).  I need to determine what happens next.  Comic book style structural rampage to highlight the XO’s capabilities?  Specific target seeking quest? A vendetta or a robbery?

What’s the ending?  Does The Antag relent and power down the virus?  Is Arm forced to sacrifice the XO and himself for the greater good?  Maybe Arm is able to re-take the XO and stop the Antag?

Let’s say there is no virus.  The Antag takes a hostage and coerces Arm to do bad things with the XO.  Thus Arm is using his skills to protect one person at the disperse expense of others.  None of these really attacks his self-concept unless I change that concept a bit.  Maybe he is aloof and less caring more selfish?  Nah.  I think I’ll stick with a straight hero and just work a better angle.

Testing occurs on a specific planet consisting of the proper gravity or terrain.  Arm is the lead tester but soon other pilots will be on planet and in danger.  Or able to suit up themselves.  Arm’s brought a daughter or son or a wife or hooked up with a civilian contractor taken hostage.  So we’re on a remote planet.  What could The Antag want to accomplish?  Straight robbery?  Capture of a highly placed local political figure?  If it’s Doc then it would be knowledge of some sort.

Day 412

How to Kill a Honga Rider

Tyh gaped.

The honga stared.  The honga drooled.  The honga blocked the sun.

Tyh was being jerked to his feet and he was being pulled around the honga-apparantly three things existed.  Tyh struggled to believe that even he could fit into the same world as this sky-darkening monstrosity but looking away broke the lock.

Keena tugged him toward a half-door mounted along the wall of the honga-pit.  A slight man in pilots’ gear leaned in the jam outside the office with one hand on the half-door’s shelf.  Another man, inside the office, held his head raised above his crossed arms on the same shelf.  Each watched Tyh’s nearly involuntary approach.

“Quartermaster.  I’m bringing you some help,” Keena declared.  The Quartermaster slumped his face into his arms.  His pendant earrings jangled onto the shelf.

“Keena,” said the man dressed as a pilot.

“Keena,” mumbled the Quartermaster.

“Quartermaster did you hear me?  I’m bringing you a helper.  Someone to sweep your office.  Someone to clean your window.  Someone to collect your papers.”

The Quartermaster left his head on his arms.  “I know what help is Keena and I do not need it.”  The last four words he spoke increased in anger and volume.  His bald head flushed with blood and his gold scalp ring went from limp to perpendicular as his jaws clenched the skin over his skull taut, but his face never left its hiding spot.

“Of course you do.”  Keena slung Tyh toward the door and headed off into the back of the pit.

“Dammit, Keena!”  The Quartermaster pulled the half-door open so quickly Tyh felt the rush of air.  The Quartermaster chased her for three enraged steps and then just stopped.  The man dressed as a pilot blandly watched Tyh throughout.

“You see!  You see?  You see what she does to me.  Don’t you?”  The Quartermaster didn’t have to turn slightly to the man dressed as a pilot for Tyh to know he wasn’t being addressed.  Tyh decided it would be easier to speak to the Quartermaster’s back than to wait for him to turn around and show his face.

“I’m Tyh.”

“I don’t care.”

The man dressed as a pilot chuckled, “I’m Bem.”

Tyh’s position in the Quartermaster’s shop puts him in touch with every honga rider and pilot in the den.  He unwittingly gains experience and connections Keena craves.  It’s not until he is sworn as a honga-rider that her jealousy peaks and he must find a way to reconcile or make an enemy of her for all time.

None of the above is new.  The 20 Plots exercise I did to follow this honga thing produced a couple appealing ideas for what do do with these characters.  Of those I liked the rivalry version best.  I’m not as familiar with rivalry as I am with jealousy, but I think I’ll be able to work that out.

My instinct for this is that honga reside in the background of the human and human-like characters.  Initially I’m thinking their relationship with people is similar but less than that of McCaffery’s dragons to the people of Pern.  That doesn’t absolve me of having to work out what I’m guessing will be a rather complex military culture in regards to them and their use.  Crafting some ideas in that arena may produce leads for the rivalry plot or at least provide the infrastructure for such.

With the current set up I’m not sure how I can mitigate the likely appearance of Tyh as a naturally skilled rider or a highly lucky individual unless he fails out of sweeping and right into a rider training program.  Nah.  I think I’d like to hang onto the scrap of ‘nobody becomes somebody’ fantasy trope I’ve got here so far—keeping mind not to play it up too overtly.  Could be that his association with a broad selection of riders, pilots, and other ground personnel soft trains him for the job.  Then any serendipity will seem less author induced.  He’s been in and around honga and riders for so long no wonder he’s got some intermediate skills.

All that means that he can’t get there from here too quickly.  A year?  Two?  Six months?  A shorter time is going to increase the rivalry between the two, but a longer one will make his rise more plausible.  The trouble is that you can’t really show time passing in a novel.  Rather you can’t experience it passing.  So the only thing I’ve really got are events and a gradual gaining of knowledge from these events.  Nice.  SO now I’m needing a bunch of reasonable events that increase in difficulty

So he’s now a skilled rider—pre-rider.  How do I get Keena to notice?  And what does she do about it?  Fearing for his safety report him to the powers that be?  Warn him off herself?  Ignore it as incidental until it’s too late?  Why’s she so worked up anyway?  Why not be happy for him?  Proud for her find?  Would she get credit for finding him?  Is there something in their prior relationship that sparks this separating path or is it purely on her side of the equation?

I can see how all this leads to petty conflict.  How does it lead to grand conflict?  And do I have to make Keena a bad-guy to pull that off.  Her enlisting others in a scheme to bring Tyh down?  Murder him?  Is this world that kind of world?  I always like to make omelets without cracking eggs.  Kill off your darlings they say.

Day 285

Day 133: Three Plots for My Redemption

I am writing in the morning for the first time in several weeks. Even if the content sucks, I am already ten time happier about this that I was with last night’s efforts.

I’ve discovered it’s hard for me to not write in the first person. This surprises me. I don’t read much first person work–as far as I recall. Mary Stewart’s Arthurian trilogy comes to mind, but nothing else. Maybe it’s easier since I don’t have to think up names for characters and I can hide in ‘my’ head with thoughts rather than coming up with a plot.

Ha! There’s me circling back to my plot avoidance strategies. For a guy that so readily identifies his problem, I’m sure sucktastic at tackling it. Plotophobia. Let’s try my little plot exercise again this morning:

A green faerie, ousted from court, seeks the respect and love of the newest regent in order to return to the life she once had. While eavesdropping she discovers an ancient tome of power and that the new regent isn’t who he seems to be. In order to save her country, she must carry the book to where it may be safely opened or destroy it before the regent gets it back.

Eesh that sounds like some ‘generator’ tool was involved. Let’s try another…

A mother whose prescience has abandoned her since her teens suddenly starts seeing her own daughter’s future. It’s not good. Without revealing her curse, the mother’s actions come off as meddling and only serve to push her college-bound daughter further away.

I’ll stop with number three for today since it’s the top of the hour…

Remarkably after having reported his digital camera stolen a man’s camera is recovered by the police. The police find photographs of a crime on the camera. Somehow the context point to the owner’s involvement rather than the thief’s. The owner’s attempts to exonerate himself make him look more guilty. Pushed to the limit by the legal system he goes underground to hunt for the criminal instead. If he can’t have justice, he’ll settle for revenge.

There is a legal-crime thriller I couldn’t hope to know enough to write.

Word count: 373

Day 110: The Texting of Arthur Brandt

I enjoyed this world builder’s perspective on survival in alternate universes:

Let’s give that plotting thing another chance…

MC witnesses a murder. Rather than report the crime MC rationalizes nothing could have been done and that what’s done IS done. The ghost begins to haunt the MC through the written text of books, billboards, signs and other printed materials. The MC’s guilt is high enough that the ghost easily convinces the MC that the only way to get rid of the ghost is to avenge the murder. Using clues left by the ghost the MC locates the murderer and has him arrested.

That makes me laugh. It should make you laugh too. I was just going for cause and effect and conclusion. Not quality. I like the haunting via printed material idea though.

Young MC rescued after four hours under icy water develops ‘remote viewing’. MC struggles to convince parents and other authorities of the veracity of MCs abilities. When MC uncovers a plot to rob the only bank in town and subsequently decimate the small town the MC determines to foil the plot alone. With the help of the MC’s blind grandparent the would be criminals are defeated.

This is a tough as I thought. Can’t get better at that by not doing it some more. But not tonight.

Word count: 230

Day 109: My First Three Plot Summaries

One of the joys of being me is that I have a terrible memory for reading. I know I’ve read something and I have no trouble locating a spot in a book without a bookmark, but I can’t always relate the details of a book as well as others. I enjoy rereading books.

I say this as a prelude to the plot summaries to follow. Please don’t grade me on my accuracy or depth. I am shooting for relating a summarized plot, not for a job at Cliffs Notes.

20071210 Journeyman (don’t judge)

While Katie is getting ready for a big family Christmas party Dan is whisked back in time to the paper’s 1974? Christmas party. There he divides his time between talking to his young dad and trying to save the paper’s owner (Dad Paper) from being killed mysteriously. Dan and ?woman? duke it out with the son of the owner (Son Paper) and are sent back to their respective times. Dan solicits police information from his brother regarding the night of the mysterious death of Dad Paper and returns to 1974 to be escorted by security out of the building for fighting. Dad Paper puts a halt to this, embarrassing Son Paper in the process. Eventually Dan and ?woman? discover Dad Paper dead and Son Paper drunk. Dan returns to his time to black mail grown-up Son Paper into giving him his job back.

Snow Crash

Hiro the Pizza Guy gets bailed out by tween YT in a delivery gone amuck. Hiro the Metaverse Forefather is exposed to at least three threads of a plot about to unfold regarding the future of the Metaverse and most people on the planet. Great exposition ensues. Repetitive and dull exposition continues. All the players meet back up on the Ark. In a combination of RL and VR fighting Hiro and YT subdue the Bad Guy’s Henchman then the Bad Guy gets taken out too.

Watership Down

Some rabbits do some stuff.

See what I mean by not remembering well? This might not have been the best exercise since it does dual time pointing out how bad my memory is and what I watch and read.

Word count: 365